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(1022 previous messages)
- 05:31am Apr 3, 2002 EST (#1023
.. indications he could stop a significant source of it if he
Under the Bush doctrine, he's probably a terrorist.
So Bush's answer is not to criticise Sharon and not to call
Arafat a terrorist. Instead, he urges Sharon to keep open a path to
peace, even as the tanks roll into Palestinian territory, and tells
Arafat he must give 100 per cent effort to stopping the bombing,
even as the attacks continue.
"The President does not want to get involved," says Judith
Kipper, the Middle East expert at the Council on Foreign Relations,
an influential think-tank.
Why not? "I can only guess. I think his advisers have said there
are no Americans dying in this battle. They do tend to see things in
black and white. The Israelis defending the homeland are the good
guys. Arafat's terrorists are the bad guys."
Yet in failing to wade into the crisis, the US is damaging its
relations around the world – the relations it needs to build for
its war on terror, Kipper argues.
"The US should demand a ceasefire, go over the heads of both
parties, and hold them by the scruff of the neck – they are out of
control. It's spiralling down to madness."
But what to do, exactly? Bush points out that there are two
plans to get the sides into a ceasefire and then negotiations on a
settlement, but that every time there is hope to go forward, a bomb
attack undermines proceedings. As well, Sharon hates and distrusts
Arafat, and the Palestinians loathe Sharon.
And both sides rejected their best chance at peace, the plan
hatched by Bill Clinton. That gave the Palestinians a state
including 96 per cent of the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and control
of the Temple Mount holy site in Jerusalem, but denied the right for
Palestinians displaced by the creation of the Jewish state to
return. Arafat, who rejected the plan largely over the refugee
issue, has been pilloried for his failure to embrace the best chance
for Palestinians ever. Yet then Israeli leader Ehud Barak was voted
out of office largely because of the concessions he made in that
plan, and Sharon rejected it. Bush also refused to carry it forward.
Now there is no such prospect. Bush says he favours a Palestinian
state, but suggests no boundaries. The US welcomes a Saudi Arabian
plan made public last month, but won't even call it a plan, never
mind endorse it.
Sharon says the Saudi plan, although it envisions a secure Israel
with normal relations with Arab countries, is nonsense because it
has Israel withdrawing from all occupied territories and the return
of more than 3 million refugees.
So still nobody knows what the Israeli and Palestinian bottom
lines are. Now, with Arafat's refusal to rein in the bombers, some,
including Republican senator Arlen Specter, wonder whether he really
wants to have Palestinian and Jewish states, or whether his real
ambition is the destruction of Israel.
Lindsay says there are three different views inside the Bush
administration: that the Palestinians really want to drive the Jews
into the sea; that there is a prospect for a Palestinian state that
can co-exist with Israel, but Arafat is not the man to deliver it;
and that Arafat is not perfect but he's the only real option.
"You can make compelling arguments for all three," he says.
At the moment, though, one thing is clear: Palestinians and
Israelis are dying, but their leaders are enjoying growing
Arafat, under siege, his face lit by TV camera lights, is winning
sympathy and standing among Palestinians, Arabs and the wider world.
"He's loving it," snorted one US diplomat.
And Sharon, who was also fading dramatically in the polls, is
able to unleash his most basic instincts as a fighter, even though
his actions help Arafat and guarantee more bombings.
- 05:34am Apr 3, 2002 EST (#1024
So if this is a cockup in the conventional-war sense .. then ...
how would the world fare were it nuclear ?
A good reason to end the cold war and take down those missiles.
In the Middle East someone has to say "STOP!"
As with NUKES someone has to say "ENOUGH!"
But where would that simple-sense leadership come from when
America doesn't know it's posterior from it's elbow in the military
strategic sense ?
- 05:39am Apr 3, 2002 EST (#1025
Israelis fired on international PEACE group
.... 150 foreign protesters, is that Israeli tanks had
taken up position there again, signalling their imminent invasion.
Our non-violent action was intended to show that Bethlehem was
filled with peaceful foreign nationals. A second aim was to visit
families cut off by the Israeli advance.
When we reached the first of two Israeli armoured personnel
vehicles, we stopped and our negotiators stepped forward. Both are
British nationals: the writer Lilian Pizzichini and a Glaswegian
technology consultant named Kunle Ibidun. They were unable to
state our intentions because the soldier in the vehicle's turret
opened fire with his rifle.
His shots were aimed in front of us. They could be called
warning shots. But the bullets fractured on impact and his first
five bullets injured four people: Kunle himself, a young Japanese
woman from Bradford, an Australian woman from Hebden Bridge and
Chris Dunham, a Londoner. As we backed down the hill, an elderly
Englishman received shrapnel fragments in his face and an American
was wounded in the leg. As I write, the Australian is still in
hospital and the Japanese woman is returning home for treatment.
I came to Bethlehem to accompany my wife as she made a
documentary about the West Bank-based International Solidarity
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